For the first time in Australian history, the Australia Day honours have all been awarded to women. Here the the inspiring women, along with their stories and why they were honoured on the special day.
Image: Australian of the Year Awards
It’s a sensitive day for some and a good excuse to drink beer for others, but Australia Day also marks the announcement of the Australian of the Year and other honours to recognise some of the great things people do in our diverse communities. Usually, such work gets done without recognition — these people might get a pat on the back from those in their immediate circles, but on Australia Day 2015, a group of women was formally recognised for their work.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the 2015 Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year and Australia’s Local Hero in a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra. And for the first time in the history of the day, all the honours were bestowed upon women. Take a look at this video of the women honoured, then read their stories below.
Jackie French, Senior Australian of the Year
The first children’s book Jackie French ever wrote was labelled the messiest and worst spelt manuscript ever received. But despite that, and her battle with dyslexia, she went on to forge a 140-book literary career. French now tours the country as an advocate for children with learning difficulties, promoting literacy programs and sharing the power of reading.
Drisana Levitzke-Gray, Young Australian of the Year
With deaf parents, a deaf extended family and the fifth generation to be born deaf in her family, Drisana Levitzke-Gray is a deaf advocate, eager to ensure the rights of her community. Her message is this: Being deaf is not a disability, but rather a significant gain instead of a hearing loss. She has inspired the deaf community to embrace their diversity and promote a positive image of deafness, saying, “It’s okay to be deaf.”
Juliette Wright, Australia’s Local Hero
Juliette Wright has created a connection between those who have a helping hand and those who need it. In 2009, she created an online platform, GIVIT, which enables people to give quality goods to those who need it. The organisation also became the government’s official website for matching donations of quality items to those who had been hit with the devastating floods in Queensland in 2011.
Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year
Image: Channel Ten/Tenplay
It’s under incredibly sad circumstances that Rosie Batty received the honour of Australian of the Year. But since her 11-year-old son, Luke, was killed by his father in February last year, Batty has been campaigning against domestic violence and lending her voice to the many people who have shared experiences. Batty now campaigns to raise awareness, frequently stepping into the spotlight to ensure people realise the prevalence of domestic violence in Australia.